Adult children and their aging parents are often concerned about increasing frailty. which often leads to falls and injury. With advances in wellness programs, frailty should no longer be considered a constant threat. Yet, falls and other injuries do loom as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Since avoiding falling is mostly about building large-muscle strength, many community colleges with significant aging populations, are starting to offer fee-based group classes to help improve core body strength in seniors and the elderly. Participants meet on campus to discuss fears and join others in group exercise. Instructors encourage participants to commit to a program of daily exercise that builds large-muscle (core) strength. Mutual support provides encouragement to stay-the-course, and to discover that aging people don’t have to resign to being weak, frail and vulnerable.
About two years ago, my Phoenix-based caregiving company, In My Own Home, saw the empowering value of providing counseling and gentle exercise in clients’ homes. Using excellent evidence-based programs, nurse practitioners coach clients in their homes with a weekly program.
Through gentle but ongoing exercise, seniors can reduce their injury risk and dispel their falling fears. This combination gives our clients a sense of personal empowerment and independence. With practice, clients may be able to give up canes and walkers and walk independently again.
In measuring their abilities we use University of California-compiled data on how people from 60-90, performed before and after gentle, supervised exercise. Comparison of our clients’ performance versus the database provides evidence to clients on how they have improved versus others in their age category. This gives them proof-positive of their personal achievement at program completion. This insight provides good incentive to keep on exercising. We also have trained our in-home caregivers to continue the program beyond the 10-week commitment (at nominal cost) to help our clients maintain their fitness and independence for the longer term.
Many clients have said that as they age and become less active, their medical practitioners often dismiss their concerns with comments like: “So, what do you expect? You’re getting old”. This attitude implies that aging people are expected to acquire a sense of powerlessness. You don’t have to buy into this attitude, however. Start or continue an active lifestyle with an exercise and balance routine designed for seniors.